Mar 252011

Hubby and I were watching the next-to-last episode of Top Chef Masters tonight (yes, a couple of days late, but it’s hard for us to watch anything live), and it got me thinking. No, not about who’s left in the final two. I’m disgusted that three women entered the finals in the Bahamas and all three went home. (Carla! Tiffany! Antonia! What was up with that?) Hubby and I agree we wanted Carla and Antonia in the finale. Sigh.

Anyway, for the competition the three remaining chefs had to create a meal to reflect the desired last suppers of three celebrity chefs – Wolfgang Puck, Michelle Bernstein, and Masaharu Morimoto. (Poor Antonia having to make miso soup and authentic Japanese rice. She got the short end of the stick in this episode.)

I wanted to discuss with hubby what our last meals would be, but he thought the conversation was morbid and depressing. Spoilsport.

(It’s called an intellectual exercise, dear!) So I’ll have a discussion with myself.

No Knead Pizza

No Knead Pizza

Course, to know something is your last meal generally means you’re on death row, but we’ll pretend for the sake of argument that I’ve lived a good long (looooooong) life and just happen to know I’ll croak after dinner. What would I want for my last supper?

…And I’m torn.

The first thought in my head is taco salad – a family recipe my mother learned from a neighbor before I was even born. Love it. Especially with summer tomatoes. And maybe a buttery avocado. Cabot Extra Sharp crumbly aged cheddar cheese. Crisp romaine. Ground turkey, kidney and black beans in Old El Paso Taco Seasoning. Cool sour cream, tangy Kraft Zesty Italian dressing and crunchy Doritos crumbled on top. Between the seasoning, dressing and Doritos, it’s probably one of the most processed things I make. But it’s fantastic, and I’ve loved it all my life. My husband and I enjoy it at least once a month. Would I want it as my last meal, knowing I’d never eat anything else?

Rigatoni and Tomato Sauce

Rigatoni and Tomato Sauce

What about pizza? Tomatoes in another form. Cheesy goodness. Loads of veggies. Or no other toppings, depending on what I’m making. Don’t ask me to choose from my 6 favorite recipes. I love them all. Pizza is manna from heaven. I guess if one pizza recipe doesn’t stand above the rest, it probably wouldn’t be my top meal.

So then there’s spaghetti. Or pasta and tomato sauce in any of their myriad forms. Lasagna. Pasta Casserole. Stuffed Shells. Sigh.

A juicy top sirloin steak and roasted baby potatoes.

We can’t forget breakfast! I love pancakes with real maple syrup. Or french toast. My awesome cheese grits. Scones. Biscuits. Berry Crumble Bars. Isn’t breakfast a wonderful time of day?

Biscuits fresh from the oven

Biscuits fresh from the oven

Oh, I love fruit, too. A perfectly juicy Dorman raspberry from my yard. Local strawberries and peaches. Tart, bright kiwi or fresh pineapple from the other side of the world. A crunchy Pink Lady apple from Perdue’s Mountain Fruit Farm.

What if we include restaurant food in addition to what I make at home?

The burger and sweet potato fries from Purple Onion in Shallotte, NC.

The Shenron dragon roll at Sushi Hana in Greenville, SC. (Or the Kamehameha roll. Or the special California roll. Or any of their sushi, really.)


Did not expect to have such trouble thinking of amazing restaurant meals. I guess I really do prefer my own cooking!

As hard as the entree is to decide on, I think I’m even more stumped when it comes to dessert.

Vanilla pound cake? I do love it when I make a particularly good Nick Malgeiri pound cake, with flecks of vanilla bean from vanilla bean paste instead of extract.

Eclair squares. Man, oh man. Creamy, chocolate-ty, with the warmth of the graham crackers. Processed, yes, but so yummy.

Cake Mix Doctor sour cream cupcakes. With Cook’s Illustrated foolproof chocolate frosting. Again, from a box, but they really don’t taste like it. And it’s cupcakes!

Oreo truffles. A new recipe for me in the last year, but absolutely decadent.

I know I would not want cookies for my last dessert. I’ve made so many of them for so many years that cookies have lost their “specialness” for me. Even recipes I used to love don’t tempt me very much. I enjoy them, but I no longer crave them.

Okay, enough descriptions and waffling. (Ooh, waffles. Yum) Ahem.

I think sour cream cupcakes with milk chocolate frosting wins for dessert. I do love a good cupcake. And if I’m dying, the processed part won’t really affect me, will it?

Local Heirloom Tomatoes

Local Heirloom Tomatoes

I love food so much, so many different foods, that I’m finding it nearly impossible to choose my last supper. I do notice a common thread for many of the dishes I’ve listed above, though.

Decision made.

For my last supper, I want tomatoes. Vine ripe, juicy, heirloom summer tomatoes.

Peeled and sliced like my grandmother used to prepare them. (And she could never peel and slice enough to suit her granddaughter!)

Sprinkled with just a dash of sea salt. Simple, but oh, so satisfying.

So what would you have for your last meal? Please share in the comments!

Dec 162010
Entertaining tip: Have a party before the party!

A party just isn’t a party without friends. I found out this year that party prep is a whole lot more fun with friends, too. Completely by accident, we are starting a new tradition: The Pre-Open House Friday Night Prep Party. I’ve learned over the past few years (and am still learning) that when friends offer to help you, you should let them. My mother (if her health is good) and a couple of close friends come a few hours early each Open House to assist me, and my college friend B– spends the weekend here so she can help. […]

Nov 232010
My tip for entertaining? Don't burn your house down.

Good idea: A pre-party trial run. Bad idea: Setting the kitchen on fire. Okay, I didn’t actually set the kitchen on fire. Just a cookbook, but the kitchen is alive and well only thanks to my quick-acting husband. To explain: A couple of years ago I learned (kind of the hard way) that it’s not a good idea to make a recipe for the first time when preparing it for my Open House. Most recipes don’t tell you how long they really take to make – at normal human speeds, not Rachel Ray 30 minute speeds – not to mention […]

Oct 152010
The 2010 Open House Menu: First Thoughts

After each Open House, as we pack up the leftovers and get ready for the game night that immediately follows the party (my reward), my husband and I take notes about what recipes worked and which ones didn’t. Basically a post-mortem. What worked? What didn’t? Here’s what we thought about 2009.

Jul 212010
My Six(ish) Favorite Cookbooks

I love cookbooks. All the ideas and yummy food, just waiting inside those pages! You can never have too many, though I should confess I often turn to the Internet first. Sometimes I’m so lazy I’ll search on the Internet for the cookbook recipe, so I can work from the printout and not juggle a book in the kitchen. But there are a few cookbooks that are my go-to resources, and I thought I’d share them with you. These are in no particular order, as my favorite would depend on what I’m in the mood to eat!